Garden Apartment Building, National Boulevard Apartment Building
Standing side-by-side on National Boulevard in the Palms neighborhood are two Mid-Century Modern apartment buildings, each designed by a local master to be a separate part of a semi-matching pair. Architects Carl Maston and Ray Kappe worked in Maston’s office together for several years in the early 1950s, before Kappe left to start his own practice. Among their designs at this time were those for these two complexes: Maston’s Garden Apartment Building at 10567 National, completed in 1955, and Kappe’s National Boulevard Apartment Building at 10565 National, completed in 1954.
Each Mid-Century Modern building contains six units on multiple levels, stepping back and up the hillside from the street in a series of horizontal volumes with flat roofs. Parking is at the front, tucked under the first level in a soft story, similar to the Dingbat designs starting to multiply across the city at mid-century. Both buildings reflect elements of the post-and-beam school of modernism, including exposed wooden posts and beams, horizontal bands of glass windows, and cladding of stucco and vertical wood boards.
Maston’s building is one of his classic multifamily designs, understated and elegant, featuring a small, enclosed courtyard garden for each unit. Kappe’s building reflects similar concepts, but with more dramatically stepped levels that have an almost Japanese feel; this is one of his earliest completed designs, if not the earliest. Viewed separately, each of the buildings is a fine example of Mid-Century Modern multi-family design. Viewed together, they are a fantastic illustration of a short-lived but important collaboration between two master architects.